Several young men have approached me as of late who are wrestling with the call of God on their lives regarding ministry. They have asked questions, common to many who begin considering pastoral calling, such as:
“How do I know whether this is the Lord calling me or just my own ambition?”
“Should I not feel more confidence rather than doubts about my gifts?”
“What if I go through preparing for ministry then realize I am not called?”
As I interacted with them personally about these questions and others, memories were stirred of my own struggles many years ago with this same matter. A graduate student in mathematics at Purdue University in the 1980’s, I had not gone to West Lafayette to become a pastor. Yet my growing desire to share God’s truths with others, enhanced by my friendship with Pastor Dave Long, could not be shaken. In one of the many times discussing this with Dave, he handed me a study on the call of God. I recently dug this study out of my files and gave copies to these young men.
I thought I would share this study in case it may be of help to others. I am not sure of its origin – whether Dave put this together or received it from someone else – as the copy I have is an old, fading, typewritten paper without an attribution to anyone. Certainly more substantial works on the subject, such as Os Guiness’ The Call, Tripp’s Dangerous Calling, the little booklet Am I Called? in the Basics of the Faith Series, or just books on pastoral ministry such as Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor could be handed to someone. Yet the beauty of the following study is its simplicity in encouraging Scriptural meditation on the matter.
I have modified the study slightly for clarity and provided links for the first question to make it easier for use.
1) Using the links below, briefly define the following Greek words that have to do with calling. (These were the words researched in the preparation of this study.)
God’s General Call to All Believers in the Gospel
2) How does Luke 5:32 relate to God’s general call?
3) Using the following verses, answer “To what have all believers been called?”
Romans 8:29-30; I Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:9, 20-21; I Peter 3:9; I Peter 5:10
4) What observations and conclusions can you make regarding God’s general call?
5) What is the believer’s responsibility to God’s general call?
Ephesians 4:1; I Thessalonians 2:12
God’s Special Call to Servants and Ministers of the Gospel
6) Study the following passages that describe how God called certain men in the Bible. What are the common denominators in their backgrounds? In the actual calling? In their responses?
- Noah (Genesis 6:13-18)
- Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)
- Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17)
- Moses (Exodus 3:1-12)
- Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)
- Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13)
- Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
- Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:3-3:11)
- Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3)
- Saul/Paul (Acts 9:1-19; 26:15-19)
Why do you think the men responded the way that they did? What other observations and conclusions can you make regarding God’s specific call? (If the passages themselves are not conclusive, you may need to broaden your study of these references to see more of the context.)
7) What further convictions can you draw from the following passages?
Mark 3:13-14; Mark 4:21-22; Acts 16:10; Romans 1:1, 6-7; Romans 11:29; Galatians 1:15; Hebrews 11:8
8) How would you know if God had called you to a specific task? How does the concept of the “call” of God relate to the “will” of God?
9) An internal call of God to ministry must be confirmed by the church by what is termed an external call. How do these passages teach some ways that the church would help confirm one’s calling?
Proverbs 11:14; Acts 13:1-4; Acts 14;23; Acts 16:1-3; Ephesians 4:7-14; I Timothy 3:1-7; Timothy 4:11-16; I Timothy 5:17-22; II Timothy 2:14; James 3:1
10) To what do you believe God has specifically called you (if he has)? What is your confirming evidence? What are your plans for further confirming and fulfilling his calling?